NASA takes its supersonic 'flying saucer' for a spin

Incredible test footage shows its latest spacecraft in action

Test footage of NASA's supersonic 'flying saucer' has been released, an interplanetary spacecraft designed to ferry astronauts to Mars in the future.

NASA's $150m experiment trialed a new type of parachute and an inflatable Kevlar ring that could help slow down spacecrafts on future space missions to the Mars.

Known as the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), the saucer-shaped spacecraft was launched from the US Navy's military base in Hawai back in June.

The spectacular HD test footage shows the 7,000-pound vehicle being lifted to an altitude of 190,000 feet before being released.

When its up, the saucer is recorded as traveling at a speed of Mach 4.3 - more than four times the speed of sound.

The spacecraft is then halted by an inflatable, life-preserver-shaped device around the perimeter, slowing the craft to Mach 2.

While the test was deemed a a success by NASA officials, its 100-foot-wide parachue failed and nearly disintegrated on its descent toward Earth.

Project manager Mark Adler said that the videos will help his team as they continue to study how to improve the LDSD's performance for a mission to Mars.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth about a million,” Adler said, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times.

NASA hopes to return to Hawaii next year to conduct two further test flights in an effort to complete the experiment with no hiccups.

In the cosmic quest to explore the surface of Mars, this is one of many spacecrafts in the pipeline over at NASA designed to improve safety but lower the cost of space flights.


Nathan George

Nathan George is a freelance journalist who has contributed to in the fields of gaming, social media, streaming services, autonomous vehicles, phones, virtual reality headsets, wireless speakers and future tech. He studied journalism at the University of the West of England and is a holder of the Bronze and Silver The Duke of Edinburgh Award.